26 centers around the concept of violists performing and sharing their own compositions. As a violist/composer, I am inspired by the legacy of others who have picked up both bow and pen to create music. 26 was my way of gathering some of my favorite musicians who share a love of the viola, and a love for the new. This album features performances and works by violists Atar Arad, Garth Knox, and myself. Our trio of violists/composers is joined by composer Richard Karpen and violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim. The title of the recording comes from the number of strings on the instruments used: four strings each for the violas of Arad and myself and Lim’s violin; and 14 strings (seven playing and seven sympathetic) for Knox’s viola d’amore.
As a student of Atar Arad’s, I had the opportunity to experience his artistry through his teaching, viola playing and his compositions. It was, indeed, Atar’s example that helped lead me to composing myself, along with the experiences culled from my performing career filled with new music and improvisation. I first got to know Garth Knox as an admirer of his work as violist of the Arditti Quartet. I have since had the good fortune to perform with him on a number of occasions, and to get to know him as a composer. Richard Karpen’s sense of experimentation was one of the initial draws for me to join the faculty at the University of Washington, where I am very happy to be his colleague. Michael Jinsoo Lim has been my partner in crime since we met in college. As co-founders of the Corigliano Quartet and members of Frequency, Mike is the musician I most often perform with. —Melia Watras
Melia Watras, violist/composer
Hailed by Gramophone as “an artist of commanding and poetic personality” and described as “staggeringly virtuosic” by The Strad, violist Melia Watras has distinguished herself as one of her instrument’s leading voices. She has performed in major venues such as Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, and Alice Tully Hall, while achieving acclaim as an important recording artist. Watras has released 5 albums, while performing on 13 others as a chamber musician. As a composer, her works have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe.
Atar Arad, violist/composer
Atar Arad is an internationally renowned viola soloist, chamber musician, composer and educator. A First Prize-winner at the Geneva International Music Competition (1972), he has performed worldwide as a soloist
with major orchestras and as a member of the famed Cleveland Quartet.
Garth Knox, violist/composer
Garth Knox is one of today’s leading performers of contemporary music, and his vast experience as a member of Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble InterContemporain and as violist of the Arditti Quartet has given him a very comprehensive grasp of new music. Stimulated by the practical experience of working on a personal level with composers such as Boulez, Ligeti, Berio, Xenakis and many others.
Richard Karpen, composer
Richard Karpen is a composer and researcher in multiple areas of music and the arts. His compositions for both electronic media and live performance are widely known, recorded, and performed internationally.
Michael Jinsoo Lim, violinist
Violinist Michael Jinsoo Lim has been praised by Gramophone for playing with “delicious abandon,” and hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “conspicuously accomplished champion of contemporary music.” Concertmaster and solo violinist for the internationally acclaimed Pacific Northwest Ballet, Lim is featured as soloist with the company in concertos by Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bach and others. Lim is artistic director of the Seattle-based ensemble Frequency and co-founder of the award-winning Corigliano Quartet.
1. Toccatina a la Turk
2. Liquid Voices
5. Luminous Points
ARAD 6. Esther
Sonata for viola solo
10. Semplice (played by offstage perf.)
11. Photo by Mikel